Another day –another complex rescue for Appledore RNLI.
Soon after 11 am on Friday morning 22 April, Falmouth Coastguards notified Appledore RNLI of a boat in difficulty on the South Tail, Bideford Bar
. Two people were on board a private fishing boat and had been fishing in the channel near Middle Ridge Buoy. As they lifted their anchor it become entangled around their propeller, the boat lost power, their anchor dragged, and the tide pulled them quickly towards the notoriously dangerous South Tail. Realising how potentially dangerous a situation they were in, they immediately called the Coastguard for help.
The inshore lifeboat boat was launched within minutes. Despite the closeness to the lifeboat station, by the time it reached the casualty the fishing boat had drifted onto the tail and into the breaking surf. A classic example of how quickly a situation can change and how a routine fishing trip can go horribly wrong. The fisherman were experienced and well equipped with a radio, lifejackets and a good boat.
The shallow water on the South Tail creates breaking surf when the main channel can be almost flat. Luckily with an easterly wind and good weather, the surf was running evenly. The lifeboat positioned itself to come in the lull between the surf, the volunteer crew threw the line and towed the boat out of the waves to safety, and then to the boat’s mooring at Instow.
The lifeboat Helm, Del Elesmore, explains: ‘The fishermen did exactly the right thing to call the Coastguard as soon as they realised they had a problem. Had they left it until they were in the surf, the situation would have been more dangerous. That could have resulted in the fishing boat capsizing, or a casualty being washed overboard. They knew what to do and how to secure the tow so we did not have to attempt to put our crew on board in those conditions.’
He adds: ‘If anyone finds themselves in difficulty, please call the Coastguard by radio on Channel 16 or call 999 as soon as they realise there’s a problem, before it gets serious. The lifeboat crew would prefer to be called out to a false alarm with good intent, than to be called out too late to save a casualty’.
Photo: Appledore RNLI webcam
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.
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